After months of training and watching their diets closely, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts posed off against each other at the Directorate of Family, Moral Welfare and Recreation's seventh annual Natural Bodybuilding / Physique, Figure & Bikini Competition June 23 at the Fort Jackson Solomon Center.

Male and female participants competed for the top spot in physique, lightweight, middleweight, heavyweight and master male/female divisions. In addition to the physique divisions, females also competed in the figure and bikini competition.

Pamela James-Long fitness programmer for Fort Jackson and nationally certified fitness instructor with 20 plus years as an NCCA personal trainer said that the competition is all about doing things naturally.

"I have enjoyed encouraging people to get into their best shape naturally with exercise and nutrition as the foundation instead of performance enhancement supplements," the event organizer said. "It is a challenging journey, but when you do it naturally, you learn how to take care of your health and body for good with physical exercise and clean nutrition as your daily prescription."

William Rowell, first time competitor, said he sacrificed a lot while going through the process to achieve his desired results.

"It's my first competition ever; I just went through the process and gave up pretty much all my social life," Rowell said. "I stuck with the process; no drinking on the weekend, strict diet and I counted every single calorie to drop 20 pounds.

Rowell took home the trophy for overall men's physique and credits his success to sticking to the process.

According to Harry Williams, long time competitor in these events, diet is everything and Saturday's menu consisted of rice cakes and peanut butter.

Williams named Mr. Fort Jackson for his dedication to fitness and community service, said his worst day throughout the process, was near the end of the competition.

"My worst day was Thursday," he said. "I couldn't exercise and had to scale way back on sugar and carbohydrates."

QuSawanda Mitchell, who described the completion as " exciting, nerve wrecking and fun " said she worked hard for 13 weeks; eliminating sugars and carbs while working out twice a day six days a week took a lot of dedication to prepare for Saturday's competition.

Mitchell's dedication and hard worked paid off with her taking home trophies in multiple categories.
Now that it's over she plans to go "eat French fries."

The winners:

Women's figure:
First place Raquel Martinez - Class A
First place Juel Foster - Class B

Figure overall - Juel Foster

Men's Grand Master's (age 60 and over)
First place: Geraldo Cruzado

Men's master's (age 40 to 59)
First place: V.J. Lirio
Second place: Samuel Walker

Bikini: Class A
First place: Babila Fasel-Murillo
Second place: Bridgette Trapp
Third place: Qushawanda Mitchell

Bikini Class B
First place: Juel Foster

Bikini overall: Babilia Fasel-Murillo

Men's Physique:

Class A
First place: Austin Rowell
Second place: Harry Williams
Third place: V.J. Lirio

Class B
First place: Alex Harris

Class C
First place: Zavin Tatum

Class D
First place: Devonn Sumter
Second place: Sean Hightower

Class E
First place: Aaron Presley

Men's Physique Overall: Austin Rowell

Women's Physique

Class A
First place: QuShawanda Mitchell

Class B
First place: Raquel Martinez

Class C
First place: Juel Foster

Overall Women's Physique
QuShawanda Mitchell

Men's Classic Physique:

Light weight
First place: V.J. Lirio

Middle weight
First place: Zavin Tatum

Heavy Weight
First place: Samuel Walker

Overall Men's Classic Physique
Zavin Tatum